Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Good morning sir. May I see your documentation please?

I get pulled over fairly frequently by the police, usuallly the Guardia Civil. Normally it takes seconds - they see I'm wearing my seat belt, see that the car has been checked for roadworthiness or whatever and I'm soon on my way. Not always, they sometimes have big guns and give clear instructions about leaving the car s-l-o-w-l-y. I've been breathalysed either three or four times as well. Always 100% clear.

On the way to stay in a hotel in Cartagena last week I was being followed by a police car with speed cameras mounted on the roof. I signalled left and pulled into a parking bay. The policeman started gesticulating and shouting. Once out of the car in that flurry of tripping over things fluster he told me off for crossing an unbroken white liine in the centre of the road. I shouldn't have turned left.

Today we went to visit a bodega though here in Portugal they seem to be called quintas. When it got to the wine tasting I only took about half a mouthful of wine. I've got to drive I said.

Five minutes down the road and we were pulled over by police officers on a country lane - their uniforms had the letters GNR on them. "Documentation please," they said in Portuguese. I tried answering in English, no good, I tried Spanish - that worked. It turned out the poliiceman had been a lorry driver and knew our bit of Spain as well as Spanish. There were no problems with the paperwork. "You haven't been drinking have you?" he asked, almost as a throwaway line. I told the truth. I was lectured on the strength of Portuguese wine and sent on my way. Two police incidents in five days is a bit on the top side thouugh.

Interesting about the language too. I complain a lot about not being able to speak Spanish very well. Being here in Portugal where I have difficulty pronouncing the name of the town that I'm staying in has brought home to me how communicative I actually am in Spanish. It is horrible being so lost and having to be so British about speaking to foreigners - well modulated sounds, a slow delivery and simple words. Of course, just as everywhere else the foreigners put us to shame and usually manage English remarkably well.

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